Monday, September 30, 2019

Tonto Will Not Ride into Town for You—Murfin Verse for the Water Protectors

North Dakota authorities used armored vehicles and overwhelming para-military force to attack the Water Protectors at Standing Rock in 2016.  Photo posted by Facebook from the Sacred Stone camp by Rob Wilson Photography.
Three years ago this past week combined, heavily armed paramilitary forces with armored vehicles, helicopters, and sound cannon attacked a large unarmed prayer service at a Construction site on the Dakota Pipeline.  Construction workers had abandoned their equipment and fled as Native Americans led by the Standing Rock Sioux and their allies approached the site.  There were reports of teargas canisters being dropped from the helicopters.  27 were arrested in one day.  It was a dramatic escalation of the use of state power against on-going protests which resulted in an unprecedented unity between Native nations from across the U.S.A., North America, and Latin America and support from aboriginal peoples across the globe

 Photo of a mural taken by my old college pal Bill Delaney at Art Alley Gallery in Rapid City, South Dakota.
Something very important was happening for the Earth, the environment, and for the Tribes and Nations who the exploiters and despoilers were once confident had been ground into helplessness.
Now three years later the pipe line was completed and has already leaked and polluted waters.  States are rushing to enact right wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation to make virtually any protest against energy companies felonies with long prison sentences and crush fines for those who even encourage or support the protests.  Indigenous people around the world continue to defend water and the earth and young native leaders have joined Greta Thunberg in her protests and in the Climate Strikes.
It is worth a look back at a poem I committed back then.
Jay Silverheels as Tonto on TV's Lone Ranger.
A note of acknowledgement—The title and the germ of the idea was borrowed from a long-ago monologue by the late, great George Carlin.  I don’t think he would mind.

Tonto Will Not Ride into Town for You
For The Camp of the Sacred Stone 9/30/2016

Tonto will not ride into town for you, Kemosabe,
            and be beat to pulp by the bad guys
            on your fool’s errand.

Pocahontas will not throw her nubile, naked body
            over your blonde locks 
            to save you from her Daddy’s war club.

Squanto will not show you that neat trick
            with the fish heads and maize
            and will watch you starve on rocky shores.

Chingachgook will save his son and lineage
            and let you and your White women
            fall at Huron hands and be damned.

Sacajawea and her babe will not show you the way
            or introduce you to her people, 
            and leave you lost and doomed in the Shining Mountains.

Sitting Bull will not wave and parade with your Wild West Show
            nor Geronimo pose for pictures for a dollar
            in fetid Florida far from home.

They are on strike form your folklore and fantasy,
            have gathered with the spirits of all the ancestors
            to dance on the holy ground, the rolling prairie
            where the buffalo were as plentiful 
            as the worn smooth stones of the Mnišoše,
            the mighty river that flows forever.

They are called by all the nations from the four corners
            of the turtle back earth who have gathered here, 
            friends and cousins, sworn enemies alike,
            united now like all of the ancestors
            to kill the Black Snake, save the sacred water, 
            the soil where the bones of ancestors rest,
            and the endless sky where eagle, Thunderbird, and Raven turn.

Tonto has better things to do, Kemosabe…

—Patrick Murfin

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